Living near the Bruce Peninsula, I’ve always been tempted to try a day of dog sledding. I’m not usually one for outdoor winter sports, but sledding has always appealed to me. I’ve got a great deal of respect for the historic traditions behind sledding, which for so long was a major method of transportation and survival in the Far North. I’ve even teased American friends on occasion by telling them that we’re thrilled to finally have our mail delivered by truck, instead of by dog sled (and it’s somewhat scary how many of them have actually believed me, initially, at least. The giggling usually gives me away).
Of course, in the last century dog sledding has become more and more anachronistic. Most Inuit get around by snow mobile now, and dog sledding has been relegated to either the diehard old timers, or to tourists, like me, who’re looking for a taste of Tundra adventure. The “adventure tour” craze has led to a glut of “dog sledding” companies, which will take tourists out for an hour or even a few days.
One such outfit in British Columbia was banking, big time, that the Vancouver Winter Olympics were going to be an economic goldmine for them. With the post Olympic tourism slump came the reality that they had an awful lot of high energy dogs to feed, exercise and care for.
Their solution? Slaughter them all, by shotgun.
Police and the B.C. SPCA are investigating “horrific” reports that the general manager for a Whistler tour company slaughtered at least 100 healthy sled dogs last year, dumping their bodies into a mass grave.
The employee at a dog-sledding company now owned by Outdoor Adventures Whistler filed a WorkSafe BC claim for post-traumatic stress in May 2010 after shooting dozens of dogs to death.
“It’s horrific,” Marcie Moriarty, general manager for SPCA cruelty investigations, told ctvbc.ca.
“I’ve seen some pretty terrible things, but reading this [claim], I had to put it down at times.”
The slaughter was conducted on April 21 and 23. In his claim, the worker wrote that he had killed 70 dogs, but the company corrected that number to 100.
The dogs were killed because of a “slow winter season” after the Winter Olympics, according to WorkSafe BC documents.
The owners of the company aren’t denying that they ordered the employee to kill the dogs – heck, they even upped the final total, as noted above. In fact, their only defense is that they “assumed” that the slaughter had been done in a “humane manner”.
Outdoor Adventures says the cull was conducted by the manager of its subsidiary company Howling Dog Tours.
“It was our expectation that it was done in a proper, legal and humane manner. We only learned otherwise on Friday, January 28 when we read the WCB ruling for the first time,” Outdoor Adventures said in a release.
From the employee’s report, the last thing anyone could call the deaths of these dogs is “humane” –
.. The worker describes chasing after a dog that survived a shot to the face: “Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her.”
Another apparently dead dog was dumped into the grave. “‘Nora,’ who he had shot approximately 20 minutes before, was crawling around in the mass grave he had dug for the animals. He had to climb down into the grave amidst the 10 or so bodies already there and put her out of her misery.”
According to the claim, the dogs panicked as they watched their compatriots being killed, and attacked the worker as he finished his job.
At one point during the slaughter, he ran out of ammunition and had to kill an aggressive dog with a knife.
“By that point he wanted nothing more than to stop the ‘nightmare’ but he continued because he had been given a job to finish,” according to the documents.
“He stated that he felt ‘numb.'”
As much as I want to feel sympathy for this employee, who claims he was “just following orders”, I fail to see how anyone who describes himself as being “emotionally attached to the dogs” could then kill them in such a gruesome manner.
You couldn’t put an ad on Craigs List? You could call the local shelters? You couldn’t call the police, and tell them you were being ordered by the heartless automatons who sign your paycheck to slaughter perfectly healthy dogs?
I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. When you choose to follow the orders of monsters, you become a monster yourself, and this whole thing is nothing short of monstrous.